Fdd's overnight brief

June 3, 2024

In The News

Israel

The U.S. is pushing on twin diplomatic tracks in Gaza, seeking to stop the war through a cease-fire proposal backed by President Biden, while also joining talks this weekend to reopen a route for aid into the enclave that was closed when Israel advanced along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. Both efforts come with road bumps. – Wall Street Journal

Israel overhauled its military operations in Rafah following intensive discussion with American officials to avoid crossing the Biden administration’s red line and provoking a crisis in relations with its closest ally, U.S. and Israeli officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Arab delegates from Qatar and Egypt, which serve as intermediaries for Hamas, accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having no real interest in peace. Hamas lashed back at pressure to compromise, painting the Egyptians as lackeys for Israel, according to people familiar with the secret negotiations. – Wall Street Journal

As Israel’s war in Gaza rages, it’s leaning on a backbone of reservists to fight — soldiers who say they are committed to serve but who are also divided over what comes next. Most Israelis support the war against Hamas, which is seen here as an existential battle. But there’s no political consensus around how to manage the Gaza Strip after the fighting stops. – Washington Post

After an operation lasting nearly three weeks, Israeli forces said Friday that they have “completed their mission” in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza — five months after the military declared victory in the same area. – Washington Post

For months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has refused to offer a timeline for ending the war against Hamas in Gaza, a stance his critics see as a political tactic. But he has been put on the spot by President Biden’s announcement outlining a proposal for a truce. – New York Times

From the outskirts of his town in the West Bank, the mayor surveyed the rocky hills stretching toward the Dead Sea where Palestinians had long farmed and herded, and pointed out the new features of the landscape. – New York Times

A number of people were killed in an Israeli air attack targeting sites in the vicinity of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday, Syrian state media said citing a military source, the second reported attack on the country in less than a week. – Reuters

Israel’s defence minister said on Sunday that Israel would not accept Hamas continuing to rule Gaza at any stage during the process to wind down the war, and that it was examining alternatives to the Islamist group. – Reuters

Indonesia’s president-elect, Prabowo Subianto, said on Saturday that his country was willing to send peacekeeping troops to enforce a ceasefire in Gaza if required. – Reuters

Chile has joined a group of nations supporting a genocide case against Israel filed last year at the International Court of Justice. President Gabriel Boric said in a speech to lawmakers Saturday that he was appalled by the humanitarian devastation in Gaza, especially against women and children. – Associated Press

The Maldives government will ban Israelis from the Indian Ocean archipelago, known for luxury resorts, as public anger in the predominantly Muslim nation rises over the war in Gaza. – Associated Press

Editorial: Other than repeating the mantra of destroying Hamas and giving vague answers about what surely will not happen in Gaza the day after the war, Netanyahu has yet to present a clear vision of what this plan looks like. If the prime minister doesn’t present his day-after plan before boarding that flight to Washington – in Hebrew, to Israelis – he will have insulted an entire country. – Jerusalem Post

Dahlia Scheindlin writes: Israel needs pragmatists who can win elections, to be sure. It also needs visionaries, and the defense minister has not yet shown himself to be one. Mr. Gallant has raised red flags about the worst excesses of the government he served, but he hasn’t walked out. His defiance has been fleeting and reactive, not a forward march; he has yet to offer Israel a path to a better future. – New York Times

Neville Teller writes: But the idea of Hamas having any say at all about the future of Gaza runs totally counter to the political consensus within Israel. Until the terrorist group has been completely disempowered, both militarily and politically, and removed forever from playing any role in the administration of the Gaza Strip, there can be no “day after.” – Jerusalem Post

Neomi Neumann writes: Lastly, if Israel wants to maintain its Jewish and democratic character in the long term and avoid moving toward “one state for two peoples,” it must do everything in its power to preserve separation between Israelis and Palestinians. The existence of a functioning Palestinian Authority is an essential condition for this goal, as are efforts to provide a reasonable living, security, and stability for residents of the West Bank. – Washington Institute

Iran

Iran’s hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered to run for president in the country’s June 28 election, organized after the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash last month, Iran’s state television reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Iran’s foreign ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador in Tehran to protest about a China-UAE statement related to Iran’s sovereignty over three Islands also claimed by the UAE, Iranian state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

The U.S. on Friday issued sanctions targeting entities it accused of enabling Iran’s drone program, in Washington’s latest action seeking to disrupt the production and proliferation of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by Russia against Ukraine. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Friday targeting Iranian officials involved in the prosecution and death sentence of a rapper who came to fame for his lyrics about the 2022 death of an Iranian woman and his criticism of the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press

Britain, France and Germany will seek to censure Iran over its lack of cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog at its board meeting on Monday despite US opposition, diplomats told AFP. – Agence France-Presse

Recent reporting suggests that after covert negotiations, Iran and Niger have agreed on a $56 million deal to see Tehran acquire 300 tons of refined uranium. – Iran International

Editorial: Mr. Khamenei adds, “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality.” Iran’s dictator, whose thugs have savagely suppressed generations of student protesters, ends on a preachy note. “The Quran’s lesson for human relations is: ‘Do not oppress and do not be oppressed,’” he writes. “My advice to you is to become familiar with the Quran.” Translation: Drop the Pride flag and we’re good. – Wall Street Journal

Imran Khalid writes: Nonetheless, the most likely scenario is that the Iranian regime will impose a candidate who will continue Raisi’s policies. During Raisi’s term, Iran made significant international gains despite limited internal improvements due to enduring economic sanctions. Though not confrontational with the West, Raisi’s administration sought to mitigate sanctions, achieving some breakthroughs. Iran managed to maintain a balance of deterrence following confrontations with Israel and avoided regional war by opening communication channels with the U.S. Even on the nuclear issue, Iran engaged in indirect negotiations with the U.S., mediated by Oman. – The Hill

Lahav Harkov writes: Sabti said that Israel should constantly raise the Iranian issue with the international community and “cannot separate Iran’s [sponsorship of] terrorism and its nuclear program. That was a terrible mistake.” “Terrorism doesn’t make the nuclear issue disappear,” or vice versa, he stated, “just sometimes one hand is stretched out longer than the other.” – Jewish Insider

Russia & Ukraine

Although the danger of a rapid advance on the city has receded, Russia has Kharkiv back in its sights. Ukrainian and Western officials say Moscow appears to be planning a grinding war of attrition to empty it of its population by making life there untenable. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused China of pressuring countries to boycott a peace conference he is promoting in Switzerland later this month and warned that Beijing’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin will only prolong the war. – Wall Street Journal

As Ukraine prepares to mobilize tens of thousands of men to address a critical shortage of soldiers amid intensified Russian attacks, Ukrainian commanders in the field say they are bracing for most of the new troops to arrive with poor training. – Washington Post

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked his Philippine counterpart on Monday for Manila’s participation in a high-level peace summit later this month, describing it as a “very strong signal” towards achieving peace in the war-torn nation. – Reuters

A fire on Sunday at an oil refinery owned by Lukoil (LKOH.MM) in Russia’s Komi Republic region killed two people and left another seriously injured, the country’s nuclear and environmental watchdog Rostechnadzor said. – Reuters

China will not attend a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland next month because it does not meet its expectations, which include both Russia and Ukraine taking part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday, confirming an exclusive Reuters report. – Reuters

NATO’s recent move to strengthen its eastern border is aimed at deterring Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, adding that it should be clear to Moscow that the alliance will be ready to defend itself if necessary. – Reuters

Ukraine imposed emergency power shutdowns in most of the country on Sunday, a day after Russia unleashed large-scale attacks on energy infrastructure and claimed it made gains in the eastern Donetsk province. – Associated Press

Ukraine and Russia exchanged prisoners of war on Friday, each sending back 75 POWs in the first such swap in the past three months, officials said. A few hours earlier and at the same location, the two sides also handed over bodies of their fallen soldiers. – Associated Press

Editorial: Meanwhile, Congress in its last aid bill demanded the Biden Administration produce a document detailing its strategy and objectives in Ukraine, and it will be worth reading. The strategy has been to supply only enough weapons to avoid Ukrainian collapse. When the headlines turn dark for Ukraine, make a concession to Kyiv but not enough for it to persuade the Russians that they can’t win. – Wall Street Journal

Thomas de Waal writes: Last month, the Georgian government awarded the tender to develop a new deep-water port on the Black Sea at Anaklia to a controversial Chinese company. That project used to be managed by a U.S.-led consortium. In other words, Europe and the United States is competing for influence not just with Russia but also with other powers, as well. Nothing can be taken for granted in a region that is as volatile as it has ever been. – Foreign Affairs

Hezbollah

A drone launched by Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fell in the Israeli coastal city of Nahariya on Sunday, causing a fire but no injuries, Israel’s military and local media reported. – Reuters

An Israeli pilotless plane was shot down over Lebanese territory by a surface-to-air missile on Saturday, Israel’s military said, and Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the interception. – Reuters

At least one medic from a rescue force affiliated with Hezbollah was killed and another wounded in an Israeli strike on an ambulance in southern Lebanon on Friday, a Lebanese security source and a source from the rescue force said. – Reuters

Rany Ballout writes: Hezbollah’s latest “unity of fronts” narrative presents a new level of encouragement for its actions and interventions and is explicit on its overall objectives. These include the elimination of the United States’ presence in the Middle East and the destruction of Israel. Nevertheless, Hezbollah suffers from several vulnerabilities and is rife with instances of propaganda, as is evident, for example, in this latest claim of the overall goal of the October 7 attack being the revival of the Palestinian cause. – The National Interest

Turkey

Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines (PGSUS.IS) will in the coming months begin work on its next plane order as it looks to continue its fast-paced growth into the next decade, the budget carrier’s CEO told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkish annual consumer price inflation reached 75.45% in May, a bit above expectations, according to official data on Monday, in what is expected to be the high water mark before a series of rate hikes and relative lira stability bring relief. – Reuters

A Turkish journalist for a pro-government channel says a supporter of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkey of instigating a failed 2016 coup, attacked him near the self-exiled figure’s home in Pennsylvania in an encounter that apparently unfolded live on air. – The Guardian

Lebanon

Now, Adam is the first Palestinian child wounded in Israel’s war in Gaza to land in Lebanon, where he has been receiving care since Monday at the American University of Beirut’s Medical Center with help from the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children’s Fund. – Reuters

In dozens of northern Israeli towns and villages, evacuated under fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in parallel with the Gaza war, officials hope daily rocket warning sirens will give way to school bells when the academic year starts on Sept 1. – Reuters

Two Lebanese shepherds were killed in an Israeli strike that hit their house in the town of Houla near the Lebanon-Israel border on Sunday, state media reported. – Associated Press

Egypt

Officials from the United States, Israel and Egypt ended a meeting in Cairo on Sunday with Egypt sticking to its position that Israel must withdraw from the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing for it to operate again, two Egyptian security sources said. – Reuters

Egypt has detained several students who were trying to promote pro-Palestinian boycotts and solidarity campaigns, the latest sign that it does not want to leave space for activism over the war in Gaza despite growing official criticism of Israel. – Reuters

Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed predicted Egypt’s economy would grow by 2.9% or 3% in the financial year to end-June before accelerating to 4.2% in 2024/25, according to a ministry statement released on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemen

Yemen’s Houthis conducted six operations targeting a U.S. aircraft carrier, a U.S. destroyer and three vessels in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the Iranian-backed group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree said on Saturday. – Reuters

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) on Saturday reported an incident 48 nautical miles southwest of Yemen’s Hodeidah where the vessel’s master witnessed an explosion a significant distance from the ship. – Reuters

The U.S. military said on Friday Yemen’s Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles and one drone over the Gulf of Aden and four drones over the Red Sea. – Reuters

A court run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Saturday sentenced 44 people to death, including a businessman working with aid groups, on spying charges, a defense lawyer said. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia added four more banks for its secondary share offering of oil giant Aramco (2223.SE), as the advisers began taking orders on Sunday for the sale that could eventually raise up to $13.1 billion, 4-1/2 years after its record initial public offering. – Reuters

Elie Podeh writes: Prospects of normalization with Saudi Arabia following the events of October 7 place Israel at a crossroads. It can either continue to adhere to its historic role as a victim persecuted throughout history and to this very day, or seize the opportunity as a powerful independent nation to break out of its ghetto into the region as a partner and ally. Either decision will be decided by Israel’s leaders and society, not a deus ex machina. – Haaretz

Andrew Exum writes: Even if the United States and Saudi Arabia fail to conclude an agreement during the Biden administration, however, I am still bullish about the future of relations between the two countries. I speak to U.S. companies on an almost-weekly basis that are interested in investing in Saudi Arabia or partnering with Saudi companies. And despite reservations about the direction in which America is headed—many of which I share, as an American—the Saudis can’t take their eyes off us. – The Atlantic 

Gulf States

OPEC+ on Sunday agreed to extend all production curbs into next year, a deal that likely signals oil prices will remain elevated through the U.S. presidential election. – Wall Street Journal

China and the United Arab Emirates have emphasised a readiness to exchange experiences on defence and security, with a view to upgrading capacities of military personnel and security institutions in both countries, China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree nominating Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as crown prince, the state news agency KUNA reported on Saturday. – Reuters

Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Sunday condemned an Israeli parliamentary bill that seeks to label UNRWA, the main provider of aid for Palestinians in Gaza, a terrorist group, joining a growing number of nations opposed to the proposal. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

China sought to pitch itself as a friendlier global power to governments in the Middle East this week. Yet its reluctance to offer a security presence is limiting Beijing’s influence in the region. – Wall Street Journal

Iraq welcomed a unanimous decision by the United Nations Security Council on Friday to terminate the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), set up after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraq’s state news agency said. – Reuters

The practice scenario was among those discussed during African Lion, the United States’ largest annual joint military exercise on the continent, which concluded Friday in Morocco. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

Cho Kuk has lived a South Korean version of “House of Cards.” In just a few years, he has been a top presidential aide, a justice minister and the subject of a caustic national scandal—one that landed his wife in prison, ended his daughter’s medical career and left him a felon. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea launched 720 balloons across the world’s most heavily armed border overnight Saturday, hitting South Korea with their payloads: plastic bags full of cigarette butts and other trash. – New York Times

The United States and its main allies on said on Friday they are “gravely concerned” by deepening cooperation between North Korea and Russia and called for an end to North Korean arms transfers for use against Ukraine. – Reuters

North Korea said on Sunday it would stop sending balloons carrying trash over the border to South Korea but vowed to resume the practice if anti-North Korean leaflets are flown over again from the South. – Reuters

South Korea plans to suspend a military agreement signed with North Korea in 2018 aimed at easing tensions, the presidential office said on Monday, after Seoul warned of a strong response to balloons launched by Pyongyang carrying trash to the South. – Reuters

The United States is unlikely to help South Korea build nuclear-powered submarines at the moment, as it is stretched by AUKUS commitments to Australia, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the Shangri-La security dialogue in Singapore. – Reuters

Jonathan Corrado and Rachel Minyoung Lee write: Over time, North Korea will come to understand that Washington and Seoul’s strategy is a reflection of its own. When Pyongyang turns down the temperature, stops provocations, and engages in reciprocal trust-building, it will find ready and willing partners. When it insists on proliferation, weapons testing, and provocations, the United States and South Korea will improve their deterrence posture and lead an international pressure coalition. Washington can hold out hope that North Korea comes around, but if it relies on this, it passes up the opportunity for more modest and pragmatic achievements. – War on the Rocks

Bruce Klingner writes: President Yoon Suk Yeol is now faced with the dilemma of capitulating to regime demands or responding forcefully. He repeatedly criticized his predecessor’s conciliatory approach to North Korea and vowed to respond resolutely to any North Korean provocation. But defying Pyongyang’s demands or shooting at the balloons risks escalation. – The National Interest

China

China’s defense minister sought to assuage fears of confrontation between the Chinese and American militaries a day after the U.S. defense chief did the same, part of an effort to manage tensions between the two global powers in a turbulent environment. – Wall Street Journal

Sen. Dan Sullivan stood beside the newly elected Taiwanese vice president in an orchid-draped room of the island’s presidential palace, making a promise that wasn’t wholly within his power to keep. – Wall Street Journal

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that a war with China is neither imminent nor unavoidable, striking a nonconfrontational tone a day after his first face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart. – Wall Street Journal

China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists sparked a seminal crisis in Beijing’s relationship with the West. On the massacre’s 35th anniversary, China’s leaders face familiar international blowback over their conduct. – Wall Street Journal

An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday, China’s space agency said, marking its second mission to a lunar region that no other country has landed on amid a growing international rivalry over space exploration. – Washington Post

The prospect of peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan is being increasingly “eroded” by Taiwanese separatists and external forces, Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun said on Sunday, drawing an angry response from the government in Taipei. – Reuters

The United States is imposing new visa restrictions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over guilty verdicts in the National Security Law trial of pro-democracy organizers in Hong Kong, the State Department said on Friday. – Reuters

China accused the European Union of working to “suppress” Chinese companies and said it will take action to safeguard its interests, as the bloc moves closer to imposing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles. – Bloomberg

Seth Cropsey and Harry Halem write:  After all, Henry Kissinger’s point during the 1972 Shanghai communiqué negotiations was to ensure that the U.S. retained diplomatic flexibility for future contingencies. China should be forced to challenge a renewed U.S.-Taiwan commitment. Nothing will deter war indefinitely. But these steps will buy time. Absent a coherent focus on political warfare, Taiwan will remain vulnerable. The U.S. may be preparing for a war that will never be fought. – Wall Street Journal

South Asia

If Modi wins a third term—as he is widely expected to do—when the votes of the nation’s general election are counted on Tuesday, he will be poised to overwrite the legacy of India’s first leader and further his vision of turning India into an economic power that draws national pride from its Hindu past. – Wall Street Journal

As India wraps up a seven-week-long marathon election, reports of irregularities have reached a level not seen in decades. Across the country, supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have been accused by their opponents of working with local authorities to suppress turnout among voters or to remove opposition candidates from the ballot altogether. – Washington Post

Through the middle of a high-stakes election being held during a mind-melting heat wave, a blizzard of confusing deepfakes blows across India. The variety seems endless: A.I.-powered mimicry, ventriloquy and deceptive editing effects. – New York Times

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans a raft of business-friendly measures if he wins a third term this week, including pushing through regulations making it easier to hire and fire workers, according to two government officials familiar with the matter. – Reuters

Andy Mukherjee writes: Although Modi has denied any such plans, INDIA alliance leaders have warned that 400 seats for the Modi government may mean a change in the country’s secular constitution. Irrespective of whether they have some signal value or are pure noise, the exit polls have at least put the idea of an eventual Hindu state into play. – Bloomberg

Asia

Lin Soe, 18, was in the second truck, part of an exodus of boys and men fleeing Myanmar because its military junta had begun conscripting soldiers in the face of mounting rebel successes. He had long resisted leaving his country, but his mother had finally told him it was time to go, he said, recounting his story. – Washington Post

Palau, a clump of about 350 small islands in the Pacific Ocean, has become increasingly important to the United States as China tries to build clout in the Indo-Pacific. This year, Washington finalized a long-delayed plan to give Palau hundreds of millions of dollars in aid over two decades. – New York Times

The United States, Japan and South Korea agreed to hold new trilateral joint exercises this summer, a joint statement issued by U.S Department of Defense said on Sunday, after a meeting of the three allies’ defense ministers. – Reuters

An annual poll of how Australians view foreign relations showed trust in the United States has dipped, although most (83%) saw the U.S. alliance as important for security, and 63% said it makes Australia safer from attack or pressure from China. – Reuters

Australia has asked for military talks with China and is comfortable growing closer to the Philippines, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said on Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit. – Reuters

Karishma Vaswani writes: The US statement says. “He underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law, especially in the South China Sea.” No one wants a war in these contested waters. The Chinese are focused on Taiwan, and the Americans are preoccupied with Ukraine and Israel. As larger, greater powers, it would be the responsible and mature option to find a way to dial back the tensions. Smaller countries like the Philippines are at their mercy. – Bloomberg

Europe

A prominent far-right activist who was leading an event to “educate about political Islam” was among six people wounded in a knife attack in Mannheim, Germany, on Friday. – Washington Post

Proposed new European sanctions targeting transhipments of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) are unlikely to impact Asian buyers, Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, told reporters in Tokyo on Monday. – Reuters

China has alleged that the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6 turned two staff members of unnamed Chinese central state organs into spies for the British government, its State Security Ministry said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

The European Union’s disinformation-busting team last month debunked a Russian-language video on YouTube that said citizens were fleeing dictatorship in EU member Poland and seeking refuge in Belarus, a close ally of Moscow. – Reuters

Halla Tomasdottir, an entrepreneur, has won Iceland’s presidential election and will take over the mostly ceremonial role from incumbent Gudni Johannesson, broadcaster RUV reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Serbia’s ruling party defeated the opposition on Sunday in a vote for Belgrade city council and partial local elections across the country, marked by scuffles between opposition supporters and those of the populist President Aleksandar Vucic. – Reuters

The pro-Russian leader of Moldova’s largest opposition party has called for better relations with Russia and China and urged other groups to join forces in fielding a single challenger to pro-European President Maia Sandu in an October election. – Reuters

France has banned Israeli companies from participating in this year’s annual Eurosatory arms and defence industry exhibition in Villepinte near Paris next month, the event’s organisers and the French Defence Ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

The ethics council for Norway’s $1.6 trillion sovereign wealth fund is investigating which companies are selling weapons to Israel for use in its war against Hamas in Gaza, and may advise divesting a “very limited” number of arms manufacturers. – Bloomberg

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: Glucksmann, a moderate, joined with other European social democratic politicians to issue the Paris Pledge to “defend our principles and our open societies with infinitely more vigor,” “build a strong barrier against the far right,” combat “hatred, racism and xenophobia,” and “defend and fight for democracy, not take it for granted.” So while the E.U. elections might mark a high point for the extreme right, they could also set in motion a revival of the forces required to contain it. The imperative of the moment is to match the far right’s fervor with comparable boldness on behalf of democracy and inclusion. – Washington Post

Anton Jäger writes: Belgium serves as a stern reminder that there are few bulwarks against the trends that ail European nations. The country is no Italy or Netherlands, where the far right is already in government, and party democracy and its postwar prosperity survive only as faint memories. Yet even with Belgium’s lower inequality rates, higher union membership and comparatively stronger party infrastructure, the march of the far right has also proved eerily unstoppable. – New York Times

Africa

Disillusioned South African voters delivered a devastating upset to the African National Congress, with the party sinking to just 40% of the vote in national elections—a result that puts into question the future of President Cyril Ramaphosa and, after 30 years in power, that of the former liberation movement itself. – Wall Street Journal

The Abu Shouk camp has sheltered more than 100,000 survivors of the mass atrocities perpetrated against Black indigenous communities in Sudan’s Darfur region in the early 2000s. Now, its residents are once again being attacked, and local activists and international officials are warning of a repeat of the earlier violence. – Wall Street Journal

Prosecutors in Central African Republic say they have detained a European employee of a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation on suspicion of being a threat to state security and seeking to incite revolt against security forces. – Reuters

One South African soldier was killed and 13 others where injured in a battle with Rwandan-backed M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the South African National Defence Force said on Friday. – Reuters

Africa is a “crucial partner” for South Korea to further its industrial advances and “cooperation with Africa is not a choice but a necessity”, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo said. – Reuters

Editorial: Yet the ANC has always been a collection of factions rather than a strictly ideological party. Mr. Ramaphosa, who held several top ANC posts under Mr. Mandela, who later became a millionaire in the private sector, hails from the more moderate wing of the party. He should be able to make room for the DA under the ANC’s big tent. Such a coalition could give South Africa a strong, multiethnic, governing majority, based on three-fifths of the votes, and capable of bringing needed economic reforms. That would be good for South Africa, the continent and the world. – Washington Post

Dena Ibrahim writes: The R.S.F. encircled El Fasher in North Darfur a little over a month ago. The city, already threatened by famine, waits on the edge of a likely massacre. And yet the international community still stands by. Attention is rarely paid to Sudan, and much of what I read reduces the conflict to a power struggle between two generals or a migration problem for Europe. Perhaps this is why R.S.F. fighters feel so free to broadcast their crimes on social media. There was no place for rogue militias in the Sudan we dreamed of at the sit-in in 2019. They stole that future from us, and now they are erasing our past. – New York Times

Lydia Polgreen writes: But it also reminds us that the ecstatic moment of freedom’s birth in South Africa 30 years ago was a beginning, not an end. We call birth a miracle not because we know how it’s going to turn out, but because of the limitless possibility that it contains. The birth of a nation is no different. The new South Africa is still at the beginning of its story. No country, no person, is only a symbol or a metaphor. – New York Times

Peter Pham writes: Instead of looking west across the Pacific to China for the wherewithal to develop future U.S. energy and industry, Washington needs to look east across the Atlantic to Africa, where, in partnership with African governments and companies, a more strategic and sustainable path can be blazed. – The National Interest

The Americas

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele took office on Saturday for a second term pledging to cure the “illnesses” of the Central American country by prescribing his medicine to fix the economy, following his successful treatment to cure the “cancer of the gangs” during his first five years in office. – Reuters

Police say they have thwarted a plot to detonate explosives at locations across El Salvador on Saturday, when President Nayib Bukele is set to be inaugurated for a second term. – Reuters

At the base of the sacred Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, President Javier Milei of Argentina appeared to be in a spiritual trance. With head and hands pressed against the ancient stone, he prayed with the Orthodox rabbi who introduced him to Judaism three years ago. – Associated Press

North America

Since January, when he began campaigning for mayor of the town of Alcozauca, Mendoza said he has endured dozens of telephone death threats. A local criminal kingpin, known as “El Señor,” left a message written on a sheet warning Mendoza to stay out of politics. – Wall Street Journal

Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico’s first female president in a landslide on Sunday, an official quick-count of votes showed, cementing the dominance of the left-leaning Morena movement that over the past six years has upended the country’s political establishment. – Washington Post

Canada warned China against meddling in its elections during a rare meeting of the countries’ defence chiefs, its defence minister said on Saturday. – Reuters

The British ambassador to Mexico has been removed from his post after he pointed an assault rifle at a local embassy employee in a car, according to media reports and a video of the incident circulating online. – Reuters

A U.N. development specialist tasked with restoring order to Haiti arrived on Saturday to the Caribbean nation to take up his new post as prime minister. A transitional council seeking to pave the way for an election in Haiti named Garry Conille this week. – Associated Press

Editorial: But Sheinbaum should also take care. If former President Donald Trump returns to the White House next January, he is likely to be less tolerant toward Mexico’s double-dealing. Whether by tariffs or other executive policy levers, he will probably extract Mexico’s support for border security. If the cartels continue to spread havoc, Trump may act unilaterally against them, with or without Sheinbaum’s support. Mexico’s democratic future is on the line. Sheinbaum doesn’t look like any kind of savior. – Washington Examiner

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Electricity shortages caused by AMLO’s decision to block new private investment in power could put a damper on the nearshoring boom. Despite its geographical advantage, Mexico won’t be a good destination for capital without cheap, plentiful energy. The good news is that the new president inherits a democratic republic with lots of potential. The open question is whether Mexicans can keep it. – Wall Street Journal

United States

For years, Syngenta Group has been considered a critical partner to thousands of American farmers. Its new chief executive is trying to ward off a different perception: that it poses a threat to U.S. national security. – Wall Street Journal

Recently unearthed documents reveal that leaders of an online news site aimed at Americans have received money from both Russian and Iranian government media outlets, showing how widening geopolitical alliances are making it harder to identify and trace foreign influence operations. – Washington Post

Boeing (BA.N) and NASA said on Sunday that their teams are preparing to launch the new Starliner space capsule on June 5 after scrubbing its inaugural test flight launch attempt on Saturday. – Reuters

Andreas Kluth writes: Leading from behind only works for shepherds. The actors in international politics — from dictators to terrorists and even allies — aren’t sheep, though. To keep the world from descending further into chaos — and also to win reelection — Biden needs to be at the front, or let somebody else take his place. He could start by making clear that Kyiv can hit the Russians with all it’s got, and wherever it can draw a bead. – Bloomberg

Alexander J. Motyl writes: And that may be the scariest thing. Were we confident of Trump’s and Putin’s rationality, we might take solace from the fact that their saber-rattling is intentionally geared at only scaring the pants off the other guy. But, alas, complete confidence would be misplaced, as even many of their supporters admit. Which leaves us with, potentially, the worst of all possible worlds: Two loose cannons firing indiscriminately at each other and at everybody else. – The Hill

Cybersecurity

As the chief executive and co-founder of OpenAI, the 39-year-old oversees an artificial-intelligence startup valued at $86 billion that is spearheading a technological revolution. He owns no stake in the ChatGPT developer, saying he doesn’t want the seductions of wealth to corrupt the safe development of artificial intelligence, and makes a yearly salary of just $65,000. – Wall Street Journal

As the U.S. military’s new cyber chief and the head of the nation’s main electronic spy agency, it is Gen. Timothy Haugh’s job to be concerned about China’s clandestine efforts to steal sensitive American data and weapons know-how. – Wall Street Journal

Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the country’s leading opposition party, has been hit by a major cyberattack and has taken parts of its IT-infrastructure off the grid as a precautionary measure, authorities said on Saturday. – Reuters

Trend Micro on Sunday said it is working with Nvidia (NVDA.O) to create new cybersecurity tools that use artificial intelligence and are designed to protect the data centers where AI work happens. – Reuters

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, said Thursday it has disrupted five covert influence operations over the past three months that sought to use its artificial intelligence models for deceptive activities. In a blog post, OpenAI said the disrupted campaigns originated from Russia, China, Iran, and a private company based in Israel. – Agence France-Presse

Defense

The U.S. Army awarded the manufacturer of Abrams tanks a contract this month to begin the preliminary design of its new tank variant expected to be lighter and feature high-tech capabilities so it’s more survivable in battle, the service’s head of combat vehicle modernization told Defense News. – Defense News

The Space Force offered a glimpse this week of its vision for the future of narrowband satellite communications, a plan that could include a large number of spacecraft in multiple orbits with advanced capabilities. – Defense News

Editorial: Rebuilding U.S. defenses is cheaper than defeat or pre-emptive surrender. “Behind all the numbers,” as Reagan put it selling his defense increase in 1983, “lies America’s ability to prevent the greatest of human tragedies and preserve our free way of life in a sometimes dangerous world.” The choice is whether to rebuild the military to restore our lost deterrence or face defeat in the war that may be coming. – Wall Street Journal

Robert Peters writes: If the U.S. doesn’t invest in a credible strategic and tactical nuclear deterrent, it will resign itself to being a secondary nuclear power within 10 years. The only remaining nuclear superpowers — China and Russia — may conclude that the U.S. isn’t a power with which they should engage in strategic dialogue or arms-control discussions. The question isn’t, “Can we afford a credible nuclear deterrent?” It’s, “Can we afford not to?” – The Hill